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Shop small this year

Folks were out and about shopping on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday this weekend, but how much of the money spent this weekend will actually benefit the community?

Well, it depends on where it got spent, according to researchers.

The statistics are oft-repeated. Money spent at small businesses has a much greater impact than the same amount spent at a big-box store or chain restaurant. Money spent at a business helps operate the business and pay employees. The business then spends dollars with other local businesses. The owners and employees also spent their income in the local economy, making not one, not two, but three levels of local impact for money spent at a small business.

But as well-known as this truth is, it can be easy to ignore. Big-box stores are often more convenient, familiar and well known, so it is easier to shop at them. And online shopping is even more convenient than a big-box store for those with internet access.

But when you shop at a small business, you are directly supporting not only the dream of a business owner but also their family and their employees’ families. It’s hard to think of something that could give you a better feeling of holiday mirth.

So, as you’re doing your Christmas shopping this year, perhaps this is the year to consider steering clear of big-box stores and chain restaurants (although, if you must patronize these businesses, city leaders would surely prefer you do so in Suffolk, rather than in Chesapeake, Norfolk or Virginia Beach).

Likewise, online shopping, for the most part, isn’t the way to go if you want to support small businesses, although some small businesses and artisans do have websites from which you can order.

It may require a little extra effort, but we’re willing to wager you can find the perfect gift for everyone on your list by visiting Suffolk’s small businesses. So hop in your car and make those doors jingle and cash registers ring at the many wonderful small businesses in Suffolk. Your neighbors will thank you.